Italy is, naturally, pretty high on a lot of people’s travel lists. We understand! Who hasn’t had visions of rolling Tuscan fields, wandering grape vines, and the glittering Mediterranean sea?
My entire family lives here in Italy year-round, but my sister and I spend lots of time each year traveling to other countries on behalf of Candoni De Zan Family Wines. We’re so lucky to have made friends all over the world! One of the questions our friends abroad ask us most is, “When is the best time of year to visit you?” and, usually around this time every year, “Is winter really a bad time to go to Italy?”
They’re usually pretty excited when we explain to them all the benefits of visiting Italia, particularly our little corner, during the winter season. If you know where to go and what to expect, winter is actually a perfect time to see Italy for yourself!
First, let’s talk about destinations. If your picture-perfect vision of Italy includes little more than the hilltop towns of Tuscany or the beach towns along the Adriatic, winter is probably not the right season for you to visit. Not only will these areas be unpredictably rainy, many of the stores and restaurants close up shop for a month or two during the height of winter. Yes, parts of Italy really do hibernate!
So where is good to visit in Italy in the wintertime? Well, northern Italy is truly a winter wonderland! The Dolomites, a beautiful pink-hued mountain range in northeast Italy, are one of Europe’s top skiing destinations. Venice, too, is wonderful to visit during the winter. Although it will be cold, you can cozy up on any street with an espresso and a glass of heady wine, then stroll through the city’s maze-like streets without the usual tourist crowds. In late winter, Venice actually hosts a one-of-a-kind Carnival event that is a can’t-miss Italian experience! In fact, if you don’t mind the weather, any particularly “touristy” spot in Italy is a great winter choice; hotels will be discounted, museums will be less crowded, and you won’t have to fight for space among travelers taking selfies!
Where is our favorite place to recommend visiting in winter? The Veneto, of course! The Veneto region is where we call home, and it’s also where the Candoni DeZan winery and tasting room is located. Although winter temperatures are expectedly chilly, the Alps actually protect our area somewhat from the biting winds of winter. Within the Veneto there are actually two separate climate zones: the alpine region (where you can enjoy night skiing and see quaint, snow-capped villages!) and the hill and plain areas where temperatures are generally more moderate.
We don’t mind having real “seasons” in the Veneto, because it’s what allows us to produce some of Italy’s best wines. Yes, eating and enjoying wine are some of our favorite activities to recommend to friends in the region, and winter’s bounty is no less enjoyable than summer’s. This time of year our guests will feast on everything from roasted lamb and beef to hearty pasta dishes to creamy risotto, all specialties of the area. And of course, winter is the absolute perfect season for a delicious glass of wine!
Merlot is a winter staple in the Veneto because it’s lush, rich, and warming. We also love a nicely-chilled bottle of Polvaro Nero by the fire, and of course, we Candoni DeZan sisters never miss an opportunity to celebrate with Prosecco!
In short, winter is a fantastic season to visit Italy. We’re always happy to meet new visitors, and even in the chilliest weather, we think you’ll find Italians to be warm and welcoming.
-Barbara Candoni De Zan